What Is a Blood Gas Test?

When a person arrives at the ER with difficulty breathing, medical personnel have only moments to determine the cause.

Difficulty breathing can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, including but not limited to heart disease, kidney failure, or uncontrolled diabetes. Breathing difficulties can even be caused by chemical poisoning.

In an emergency situation, a doctor will order a number of tests, including a blood gas test. The test, also known as an arterial blood gas test (ABG) or a blood gas analysis, will help uncover the cause of the difficulty.

A blood gas test is not diagnostic by itself; it is usually accompanied by other tests. These typically include a urine test to check the function of the kidneys; chest x-rays and lung volume tests to test lung function; and blood counts for sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, and blood sugar.

The two most important results of the blood gas test are the blood pH level and the Partial Pressure of Oxygen (PO2) measurement.

A high blood pH level can be caused by:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Anxiety, pain
  • Anemia
  • Shock
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Hypokalemia (decreased potassium)
  • Gastric suctioning or vomiting
  • Antacid administration
  • Aspirin intoxication

A low blood pH level can be caused by:

  • Physical strain
  • Obesity
  • Starvation
  • Diarrhea
  • Ventilatory failure
  • Severe pulmonary disease
  • Severe congestive heart failure
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Kidney failure
  • Lactic acidosis (overproduction or underutilization of lactic acid, usually caused by liver or kidney problems)
  • Ketoacidosis in diabetes (a serious condition in which the body produces excessive blood acids, called ketones)

The PO2 measurement reflects the amount of carbon dioxide gas dissolved in the blood. A low PO2 measurement suggests that the person is not getting enough oxygen. The cause for this might be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, or another problem with heart.

A high PO2 measurement suggests high levels of oxygen in the blood.

When moments count, it is important to have the best heart and lung doctors available to determine and implement the appropriate course of action.

At the NJ Heart and Lung Centerâ„¢ of Regency Jewish Heritage, every patient has an individualized plan, proven to prevent readmission to the hospital, and to improve your independence.  

Regency Jewish has partnered with the area's leading cardiologists and pulmonologists to create a program that:   

  • Reduces hospital readmissions and patient length of stay
  • Maximizes ability for patient to regain ADL skills and independence
  • Offers 24/7/365 physician coverage through on-site staff and advanced telemedicine program
  • Has an on-site sleep study program to unlock Medicare benefit for Bipap utilization upon discharge
  • Offers STAT availability of Labs, X-Ray and other diagnostic tools

Our Outcomes & Capabilities include: 

  • Cardiologist and pulmonologist on site daily for immediate intervention
  • Specialized rehab & nursing protocols developed in partnership with leading cardiologists & pulmonologists
  • A plan proven to prevent readmission to the hospital and improve patient independence and functionality
  • Regular Communication Between Patient, Family, Staff & Physicians
  • Collaborative care planning with other physician & therapy specialists
  • Advanced staff education & training
  • Transitional care nurse & enhanced discharge-to-home process
  • Follow-up home visit within 24-48 hours
  • Educational material provided to patients & families

Regency prides itself on offering the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means always listening to our residents and patients and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence. And always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.   Contact us by clicking here.

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Are you interested in The NJ Heart and Lung Center for yourself or someone you love? A member of our team will be happy to answer your questions and schedule an on-site tour. Of course, you can also call us anytime.

The NJ Heart and Lung Center at Regency Jewish Heritage
380 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873
(732) 873-2000
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The NJ Heart and Lung Center at Regency Gardens
296 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne, NJ 07470
(973) 790-5800
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